Posts Tagged ‘maps’

Fantasy Cartography

Happy Wednesday, squiders! It’s been cold and snowy here, so we’ve been trapped in the house for essentially three days. The small, mobile ones are sad because Halloween things keep getting cancelled or delayed.

Nano starts tomorrow at midnight, and I’m essentially ready to go! I’ve got outlines for plot and character arcs, and I spent some time fleshing out my main and supporting characters. That’s typically all I need to get going–more than that and I start to lose interest or find the story gets a bit flat when I write it.

But a friend mentioned creating a map for her story, and that sounded like a good idea. I poked around the Internet for a bit and found a couple of different options, but some of them were not terribly intuitive with their controls.

I ended up with Inkarnate, which offers both free and paid options, and amused myself making islands across an ocean for several minutes. I like that it was kind of like your standard graphics program, where you can draw where you like, and change the size of your paintbrush to change the effects on your shorelines and whatnot.

I did run into some issues, though not with the program itself. My story for this year, World’s Edge, is based in the same world as my high fantasy trilogy that I’ve been working on FOREVER. The trilogy takes place on a single continent of this world, the geography/fauna/weather/etc. loosely based on Europe. At some point, many years ago, I did bother to create the rest of the world, but who the heck knows where I bothered to do so. One of my many planning notebooks? A Word document lost to the annuls of time?

(I did look through my oldest notebook that’s still floating around. Found lots of very interesting things. Did not find this information.)

(This is, of course, why it’s best to have a system for keeping track of your story information. This is something I have learned over time. Unfortunately this was a long time ago.)

(Wait, could it be in here…? No.)

Anyway, at some point I created the rest of the planet, and who knows where that has all gone. Not me! But it did cause problems when mapping, because I could recall that I had mapped this out once before, but could not remember what exactly I’d done. Three continents, I’m pretty sure. The trilogy one is well defined. A large one across the ocean is the goal of the characters for this book. The third one…? Did I decide who or what lived there? Did I name these other continents?

(There was another species in there, once, that I took out of the trilogy because it messed with its themes, but did I decide to get rid of the species altogether? This is the problem with working on something for 20 years and only starting to organize things in the last eight.)

Did I name the planet? Bad job, past!Kit. Keep track of your damn information.

But I have enough of a map for what I need, and I’ll keep an eye out for that old information, wherever it’s wandered off to. And, I guess, if I don’t find it soon, I should probably re-do it.


See you Friday, squiders, to see if I survived the kick-off party.

Productive Ways to Procrastinate Writing

Procrastination is generally bad, yes, but sometimes you can’t write for whatever reason.  You don’t have a large enough block of time, you’re waiting on feedback or something from someone else, you’re in need of inspiration, etc.

Here’s some things you can do that are useful for your writing projects so you can feel minorly productive:

1. Playlists
Actually what made me think of this blog.  I wrote a blog post earlier about how playlists can be beneficial for your writing.  For my trilogy, I have an entire playlist, with songs specific to characters, books, scenes, etc, and I’ve found that listening to my trilogy playlist while I’m writing or planning the trilogy actually will give me flashes of scenes and an idea of direction.  Some people can’t write to music, it’s true, but I strongly believe that there is the right music for every project; you just need to figure out what it is.  (I have spent some time today listening to songs by this band I was just introduced to, because they have a nice tribal sound that will be a perfect addition to the trilogy playlist.)

2. Character Pictures/Icons/Banners/Covers
While some people take their inspiration aurally (like me), a lot of other people work visually.  If you need some inspiration, why not see if you can’t find your characters’ pictures?  Personally, I like this website – there’s a ton of interesting portraits to look at for something that clicks.  You can draw your characters.  Or, if you know your characters inside or out, you could put together an icon, banner, or cover for your book.  It helps you focus on what the strongest plot points are when you’ve got a limited space to explore.

3. Mind Maps
A mind map is a visual representation of something, usually represented by circles connected by lines.  Usually there is a central concept that all other ideas branch off of.  You can use these for characterization, brainstorming, or plotting.  Just remember to let it flow without thinking about it too much.  Mind maps work as a free-thought activity.  Who knows?  Maybe your subconscious has the perfect solution to that ginormous plot hole.

4. Maps
It’s not just fantasy stories that can use a good map.  Where is your character’s house relative to the store they work at?  How close does that cute neighbor live?  Is there a coffee table in the middle of the living room to conveniently trip that would-be murderer?  Maps help you keep your facts straight.  It can be hard to keep everything in your head while you’re working on a story, and having an easy-to-reference map with the information can be easier than trying to find where you last talked about something in your manuscript or guessing and having to fix things in later drafts.

Hope your holidays plans are coming along swimmingly, Squiders!